How to Teach World Languages for Homeschool High School, Interview with Anne Guarnera

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Teach World Languages for Homeschool High School, Interview with Anne Guarnera.

How to Teach World Languages for Homeschool High School, Interview with Anne Guarnera

How to Teach World Languages for Homeschool High School, Interview with Anne Guarnera

Most homeschool high schoolers will need a world language on the their transcripts. It can also feel like one of the most intimidating subjects for us homeschool moms to plan, resource, and maybe even teach. How can you handle those World Language credits?

We asked our friend, Anne Guarnera of Language Learning at Home, to help us! Anne holds a PhD in Spanish from University of Virginia and has taught Spanish at high school and college level.

How to Teach World Languages for Homeschool High School, Interview with Anne Guarnera. Anne is homeschooling her three sons bilingually (Spanish and English) with instruction in Portuguese- so you can tell that languages are important to Anne and her husband. In fact, these high school sweethearts have lived in several countries. Her husband speaks French, Spanish and Portuguese. Anne speaks Spanish, Portuguese and reads French.

Anne tells her story because she wants homeschool high schoolers and their moms to know that they can do it!

Anne learned Spanish because she was a failed French student. She studied French through high school and wanted to study it in college. She and her future husband had wanted to do study-abroad in Paris for part of their college. This dream ended sadly for Anne when she bombed her French placement test during her first week at college. She read and wrote French competently but her speaking and listening was so poor that she was going to have to go back to French 101.

She was so discouraged (but she sees now that this was God’s leading) that she gave up on French and started Spanish 101 and eventually ended up with her PhD. With her excellent training at University of Virginia, she became fluent, not just in reading and writing, but in speaking and listening, too.

After her bachelors degree, Anne worked in Spanish organizations in Washington, DC. She went back to get her PhD because she wanted to teach Spanish to young people so that they would not experience what she did when she took that heartbreaking French placement test.

Out of her experiences learning and teaching Spanish, Anne shares three tips:

Tip #1 Find your homeschool high schoolers’ motivation

It is much easier to learn if they have articulated their “why”! Learning languages takes hard work (practice), skills development and risk taking (making mistakes trying to speak, for instance). When they remember their why, they will be more willing to invest their time and energy.

For instance, perhaps your teen likes Kpop. Korean might be a motivating language to learn. Or they want to test out of languages for college, so they will work hard in high school so that they can test out. Or they want to become missionaries.

Sit down with your homeschool high schoolers. Involve them in the planning. Take them out to coffee and ask them to envision what learning the language will do with them. Help them develop a vision and a why.

Tip #2 Choose your curriculum wisely

Anne highly suggests that you choose a true World Language curriculum.

She explains that Duolingo and Rosetta Stone are good practice tools but not curriculum. (BTW- she has reviewed Duolingo and other language-learning resources on her website.) Unfortunately these, and many app-based resources do not have the systematic and spiral-structure that a systematic language-learning curriculum will have.

Spiral structure needed in language learning contains constant review and building on levels of skills, one after another. This gives the deep level skills and practice that is needed in order to have the spontaneous speaking and listening of conversation.

Anne has some good reviews on her website to help you choose curriculum.

Tip #3 Remember, your teens will need speaking and listening practice beyond the curriculum

Join a co-op, invite a native speaker to converse periodically, apps and online practice tools, watch videos and television shows in the language or with subtitles. More ideas for having some fun with practice in this post.

Teens need about fifteen minutes per day of  practice beyond the textbook for learning to stick. Designate a practice time (remember, an hour per week will not work as well as fifteen minutes per day).

Connect with Anne Guarnera at:

If you would like more encouragement on teaching Spanish in particular, check out this interview with our friend, Karim Morato. Join Sabrina, Vicki and Anne for an encouraging look at teaching World Languages in Homeschool High School.


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